Way back in 2012, I wrote a series of blog posts titled “Predictions for the 2020 Church.” The purpose of this series was to explore the ways working at churches will have changed over the following 8 years. In this post, I’m going to go through all 11 predictions and let you judge how close I am to accurate predictions.
Here’s a list of the 11 blog posts and links to the original posts.
- Reputation Capital
- Mobile Devices
- Talent Shortage
- Social Network Recruiting
- Reinvention of Offices
- Hiring Entire Teams
- Blogging for Ministry Leaders
- Video Games, Simulations, and Alternative Reality
- A Global Network
- Lifelong Learning
- Work-Life Flexibility
They’re short blog posts, probably averaging about 200 words each. So in this post I’m going to put them on here in their entirety and quickly recap what the results are.
Predictions are in H2 (large font) in order to make them easy to scroll to.
Results are in H3 (slightly smaller than H2) for the same reason.
Let’s get started.
Prediction 1: Reputation Capital
Being part of a large denomination used to mean something. It meant that your church fell in line with the denomination’s teachings, beliefs, and philosophies of ministry. No more. Being part of a denomination doesn’t necessarily mean that your beliefs or practices of ministry are the same as your sister churches. We’re already past denominations and now in the area of non-denominational “units” of ministry. It means that churches will give their “thumbs up” to other churches and ministries and that’s how we will know what’s “acceptable” and what isn’t. Also, pastors have done an incredible job of taking over social media. They’ve become masters of branding. This will play an increasingly popular role. I think we’ll see more “free agency” types of moves on the part of well known pastors, and they’ll give more and more personal attention and approval to organizations and churches that they like, even lesser known ones. I think this can be a positive thing. It will create more partnerships in the church world and move pastors to churches where they can use their gifts to the fullest.
This is absolutely true. Networks are being developed and “families” are taking over denominations.
Prediction 2: Mobile Devices
Mobile phones and devices will play an increasingly popular role. Mobile devices will be used for employee/volunteer training, punching in/out, security clearance, checking kids in/out, and interacting with your church during service. Having a website/blog/twitter/facebook/google+/tumblr/etc…. is increasingly the norm. We’re just now starting to move into the area of having church apps. Right now, only those churches willing to invest thousands of dollars are able to have one. However, this will soon change. Technology will get cheaper and more and more app developers will be willing to work for less. Having a nice website used to cost you thousands, now an organization can have their own website for free or for very little. In the same way, apps that now cost thousands will soon be available for almost nothing. Also, laptops will become less popular as mobile devices, the cloud, and wireless capability, become more powerful.
Yes! App development has become more streamlined and can now be done similar to websites, drag and drop. Not only can churches have their own app, but they can have specific apps just for special events.
Prediction 3: Global Talent Shortage
Educated workers will be needed across the board, not just for corporations and governments, but for churches and nonprofits also. Churches need pastors, administrators, accountants, assistants, counselors, etc. Nonprofits require much more technical expertise than churches do, and frequently look for individuals with graduate degrees. These jobs require an internship at least, and at best a combination of experience and education. Nonprofits will be hit the hardest. Many pastors and church workers feel a call to ministry. I’ve seen many church workers take heavy cuts in pay in order to do ministry full time, nonprofits are different. Not that nonprofit workers don’t feel called, but their jobs are more administrative in nature and have closer comparability with the corporate world. These nonprofits will have to go to war with corporations in order to hire executives, project managers, communication directors, operations directors, accountants, plus many other positions that will be in high demand.
This is absolutely taking place. Low unemployment and an explosion in megachurches means that experienced professionals are in high demand. Vanderbloemen Search Group, a staffing agency for churches and Christian nonprofits, releases yearly salary reports. Pay for experienced church professionals has taken off in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down.
Prediction 4: Social Network Recruiting
Many of today’s top performing churches are already using social media to recruit, train, exhort, and mobilize volunteers. These churches will take this to the next level. They’re going to use social media to recruit employees, independent contractors, consultants, and speakers. Churches and nonprofits will discover what businesses have already known, linkedin works, skype works, and gotomeeting works. Not only will these tech savvy churches continue to excel in these areas, but the rest of the church world will soon catch up.
Yes, this is absolutely happening and even moving forward in this direction. I know plenty of individuals who have been recruited through social media, myself included.
Prediction 5: Reinvention of Offices
The way workspace is used is already changing, and will continue to change over the next few years. At Calvary Chapel Kendall, space is at a premium. Not only is our staff spread out over two locations, but every one of us shares our office space. Growing churches will always have staff space at a premium, so what are you supposed to do?
Get over it, and use technology to slim down your space.
You don’t need paper files, large desks, phones, cubicles, or even offices! What you do need is WiFi, a powerful laptop (preferably a mac), and somewhere to sit. We can work from anywhere. Need to counsel? Meet at Starbucks. Hospital visit? Go for it. Preparing a teaching? Do it from home. With the right technology, office space is irrelevant.
Yes, this has absolutely changed. Lower budgets and hire staff costs means that churches are beginning to embrace the reinvention of their offices.
Prediction 6: Hiring Entire Teams
Churches will begin to hire entire teams of people who have already proven themselves productive. This has always occurred, unofficially. We see that when a pastor/director moves from one organization to another, they usually bring a few of their most trusted employees with them. This will be taken to the next level. Whole groups of employees or departments will be recruited, hired, and deployed at their new organizations. These teams will already have chemistry and their skills will already have been proven. It will be a no lose situation for a rapidly growing church. Looking to supplement your creative department? How about you rearrange your staff a little bit and make room to hire a 3 or 4 person team? Instant productivity!
I haven’t seen this yet, although I still think we’re moving in that direction!
Prediction 7: Blogging for Ministry Leaders
Does every pastor blog? Yes. Actually, no, it just seems like they do. Most pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders know what blogs are but do not actively blog. There are ministry leaders serving in every country in the world, they have a lot to offer, yet they restrict themselves. No longer! By 2020, most ministry leaders will blog, tweet, tumblr, and whatever else is out at the time. Ministry leaders are already ahead of the curve in regards to social media, and we’ll stay ahead of the curve!
I’m not sure about this one. I still don’t see many of my missionary friends blog, which is disappointing.
Prediction 8: Video Games, Simulations, and Alternative Reality
Ministry training will utilize video games, simulations, and alternative reality games in order to instill leadership qualities, counseling techniques, and critical thinking skills in ministers. Graduate business schools are already using corporate simulations to teach their students. How much longer will seminaries and Bible colleges lag behind? Believe it or not, there are some churches who have pastors for their online services, some have online campuses, and some even have a presence in alternative reality games such as Second Life!
Total fail on this one!
Prediction 9: A Global Network
To think globally is to understand the way world events impact one’s organization. The American church has been globally insulated for much of it’s history. No more. We are no longer the world’s top sender of missionaries, no longer Christianity’s trend setters, no longer uniquely focused on ourselves. Churches are increasingly planting campuses in other countries, missionaries are increasingly coming to the US to do ministry, and we are finally recognizing Christian leaders from other countries.
Over time, we’ve seen Christianity’s core move from Jerusalem to the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, Africa, Europe, then on to the United States. Over the next few years, Christianity’s core will leave the United States and keep moving forward. Latin America and Asia will be Christianity’s new leaders. Their international missions will increase exponentially, their churches will explode in population, and their pastors will become increasingly internationally known.
There’s nothing we can do to stop this. There’s nothing we should do to try and stop this. We need to embrace it, help our Latin American and Asian brothers and sisters be more effective in ministry, and continue to make disciples.
I don’t think we’re there yet. We are seeing Hillsong taking on a global leadership role but even though the largest churches in the world are in Latin America and Asia, their influence is regional, not global.
Prediction 10: Lifelong Learning
Do ministers think education is important? Yes. However, most ministers follow the same model as other highly skilled professions. Lifelong learning is currently done mostly through books, conferences, and seminars. That’s good, but it won’t be enough. 2020 ministers will have to expand their learning to include coaching networks, additional graduate degrees, and volunteer leadership in other organizations. If churches and nonprofits want to attract the top talent, they’ll have to adapt and start including an education allowance. Those employees who continue their education will have the most opportunities open to them and will shape Christianity in the US.
I’m seeing this more and more. When I originally wrote this, I couldn’t name one Pastor’s coaching network. Now I’m not even working as a Pastor but can name several!
Prediction 11: Work-Life Flexibility
Believe it or not, ministers are known to have terrible work-life balances. Long work days, emotionally draining meetings, and low pay are the norm. We joke about this being the life we have chosen, actually, this is the life that was chosen for us. Although we love it, the idea of long days, long weeks, little vacation, and overworking ourselves will soon be gone. In reality, it’s an American thing. As Christianity blossoms in other nations, we’ll increasingly follow the lead of non-American leaders. The 2020 minister will work less, play more, and take long vacations/missions with his family.
I think the church world is moving in this direction. Some of the largest churches are going the way of tech companies and removing all vacation days. “Take what you need” is becoming more and more prevalent, but mostly in mega-churches.
2020 Church Prediction Results
How would you rate me and what predictions would you add?